Clean sweep Victory for Gaurav Gill, APRC Coffee Day India Rally, Chikmagalur

Gaurav Gill cornering through the tight twisty gravel roads of coffee estates of Chikmagalur, India

Mike Young negotiating a turn in his Subaru R4
Gaurav Gill wins Coffee Day India Rally, the sixth and final event of APRC at coffee estates of Chikmagalur. Starting first on the road and winning all the stages of the Sunday. By this victory on home soil of the 2016 APRC season, Gaurav also has the honours of a clean sweep victory in all the six events of the championship. He and his team Skoda MRF Racing also won the APRC Driver, Co-Driver & Team Championship titles in the penultimate APRC round at Malaysian Rally.

Yuya Sumiyama in Subaru STi R4
Yesterday, Gill's team-mate Germany's tarmac ace Fabian Kreim retired early in SS3 after his Skoda Fabia R5's rear suspension broke in a minor accident and in the process blocking the road for the entire APRC cars who started behind him. No one were injured and the remaining cars had to turn back to the next stage start and the damaged Fabia was cleared from the stage in no-time.

Sanjay Takale in Subaru R4
Gaurav carried on with his stage after stage wins, and ended up in a commanding lead of over 7 minutes to his nearest chaser, New Zealand's Mike Young in a Cusco prepared Subaru R4. Sanjay Takale was the another Indian to complete on the podium, after Fabian early and later retirements of Yuya Sumiyama's Subaru STi R4 who had brake issues in the second run of the Chandrapura special stage (SS6), finally went off the road in a corner due to near failure of wheel stopping device.

The charging Fabian Kreim.
Gill sideways through the gates!
In the final day today, with four stages remaining Fabian Kriem stole the victory of the opening two tests, while Gill took the day's third test to his crown.

Gaurav Gill took the rally victory with a commanding gap of 11m22s over second placed Micheal Young.
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Volkswagen confirms Homologation of the 2017 WRC machine!


Jari-Matti Latvala during tests far before the exit announcement!

Volkswagen Motorsport chief Frank Welsch confirms the homologation news of the fully developed 2017 spec WRC Polo R. Although the recent dramatic and totally unexpected exit from the top rally sport, albeit reigning it for all 4 years since it entered, the Volkswagen Motorsport many times was found testing it's new car. Now it has finally initiated the process of getting the new machine rally ready.

VW Polo R WRC 2017 spec during gravel tests
The recent Dieselgate scandal that demarked nearly 30,000 workers, and the WRC program would be surely hated among those community, and would hurt its market position. With a considerable investment in developing the new machine, it was obvious that a customer/private team program, without the manufacturer's title branding was coming as many had guessed.

Marcus Gronholm was the man behind the wheel during the most tests for developing the 2017 Polo, which concluded last week, and with that the 4-time championship winning manufacturer is expecting private customer teams for the upcoming season.

Tarmac tests of the VW Polo R WRC 2017
"Lots of private teams have been asking to run the car and, while there is no decision on whether we will do that yet, with development 99% complete it made sense to complete the final hoops required for homologation so we can if necessary," said Welsch. "At the moment all I can say people are interested and we are keeping the possibility open."

With that Welsch also confirms that VW was is sticking to it's announced promise of all-electric rallycross cars in the future. "We're looking at, yes," he said. The possibility of Redbull making it happen is quite a possibility too!

With this new announcement, the 4-time WRC champion driver/co-driver and his fellow-former team-mates might have a better chance for 2017? Only time will tell!
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Fierce Battle Ahead in Chikmagalur, Gill plans to take it all! Coffee Day India Rally, APRC

Fabian Kreim powersliding the SSS @Amber Valley School, Chikmagaluru, India

Gaurav Gill & Jr.GG @Ceremonial Start!
Gaurav Gill plans to take the ultimate victory on home soil, after winning all the rounds so far in the 2016 season's APRC. Knowing his immediate competition coming from team-mate Fabian Kriem and Micheal Young, the rally is definitely going to be definitely interesting.

India Rally is also the home for Sanjay Takale yet feels like the other newcomers as he had never competed in Coffee Day Rally earlier in his career, but nevertheless is all excited about the rally. It is also the first outing for the new Skoda Fabia R5 in India, and in the narrow twisty coffee estates of Chikmagaluru it is going to be some big fight as he says as rally of thousand corners.

#Shakedown #IndiaRally at #Chikmagaluru!
Overnight rains before the rally have made the stages more interesting, and all the drivers & crew are mentally preparing for the event, just in case there is more tonight. Spectator Special stage was held today at the playground of Amber Valley School, Chikmagaluru. Fabian Kreim was the fastest among the lot with 2m17.8s on the clock, 0.7s ahead of the country's favourite Gaurav Gill both in Team MRF's Skoda Fabia R5. Yuya Sumiyama was the third quickest today's short 2.21 kms prologue in Cusco prepared Subaru STi.

Sanjay Takale excited to see his Car on the banner!
In INRC/IRC series, Sanjay Takale leads the pack with 2m28.9s, followed by Mahindra Adventure's Amittrajit Ghosh down by a whole 9s in his Mahindra XUV500, while Arjun Rao in a quick third with a gap of 10s to the leader in his VW Polo R2.

Tomorrow is going to be a tough battle for the honours in the dusty, twisty coffee plantation roads of Chikmagaluru. However, more overnight showers are predicted, although they nobody wants it. All they do now is wait till it is dawn again and the rain gods hold it up for a couple more days and then just rally hard!
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WRC 2017, the seat hunt of the reigning 4-time World Champs!

WRC 2017 the hunt for the seat!

As speculated, Sebastien Ogier flew immediately back to Europe after the culmination of the 2016 season final event of Rally Australia. He & his co-driver Julien Ingrassia also missed the WRC Gala for the hunt of new car for the upcoming, newer cars for 2017 season.

Toyota Yaris WRC 2017 during a test
Toyota Yaris WRC, from the Finnish outfit under the name Toyota Gazoo Racing at the helm of Tommi Makinen was the first of it. He reportedly tested the new WRC car of the lot, at Spain on both tarmac (wet conditions) and gravel roads.

Happy Tommi Makinen
Tommi being an 4-time world rally champ himself, had no confirmation about the signup of the reinging 4-time world champ, but was eager to have him onboard.
"Like I said, we are talking to the drivers, but we didn't make the offer yet.
"The problem we have is for the car availability.
"We will run with just the two cars until the spring time and Juho [Hanninen] will be driving on all of the rallies."

Sebastien Ogier & Julien Ingrassia Fiesta'ing a gravel stage
After a quick testing of the Yaris WRC on wednesday, the duo left towards Cumbria for the testing of MSport's Fiesta WRC weaponry.

With Hyundai almost denying a seat for the driveless world champion in their stable, and Citroen not willing to arrange a test drive without a signed contract, Ogier's wish to test all the 4 cars before making decision were left with just 50 percent of the chances of the next gen WRC car's lineup.

An excited Malcom Wilson, said
"The test went well. The car performed very well all day. I have to say it looked very impressive from where I was watching from, it was great to see Seb in the car."
Happier Malcom Wilson!
"People had told me before how straightforward and easy he was to work with and that's just how I found him," he said.
"I was really pleased with the respect shown from him and Julien [Ingrassia, co-driver] and our guys.
"The car started the test in the same set-up it had been when Ott [Tanak] was driving it yesterday.
"Seb drove it like that, then came back and made some changes - he was keen to see how the car felt when he'd made some specific changes. And the good news was that the sun was shining!"
Ogier & Ingrassia soon left to Hannover, for the season ending party (one last time at) Volkswagen Motorsport.

What a musical chair run-up for the top runner! As they notoriously say, "anything is possible"!

We have created a poll to make a survey of the same, please leave your feedback!


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RFC India Winners Head for RFC Grand Finale, Malaysia

After winning RFC India 2016, Chandigarh’s Gurmeet Virdi and Kirpal Singh Tung get ready to battle it out in Malaysia in the RFC 2016 Grand Final

Gurmeet Virdi (left) and co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung
Chandigarh, November 22, 2016: After creating history in July at Force Gurkha RFC India 2016 by becoming the first Indian duo to win the country’s toughest off-road motorsport event, Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh’s Gurmeet Virdi and Kirpal Singh Tung are all set to hoist the Indian flag in the Malaysian soil at the 20th edition of the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) Grand Final. To be held from 25th November to 5th December, RFC 2016 Grand Final is going to be a mega clash of the best offroaders from across the globe, as they compete for the winner’s trophy at the 2016 Edition of one of the world’s top ten toughest motor races.

RFC Grand Final is the culmination of the Global RFC Series, which has 25 editions worldwide in countries like India, Australia, Russia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Korea, Myanmar, Ukraine, Balkans, South Europe and North Europe among others. The event was launched in India in 2014 by Delhi-based Cougar Motorsport Pvt. Ltd. and despite being only three editions old, RFC India is today proclaimed by the entire Indian off-road community as the toughest off-road motorsport event of the country.

As per RFC India format, the top Indian driver of the competition gets a free automatic entry to RFC Grand Final. Therefore, Gurmeet will be representing India at the global series’ finale this year. This is the second time that an Indian team would be competing in RFC Grand Final and it is also Gurmeet’s second attempt at this mega event. In 2014, he was the co-driver of the first ever Indian team that participated in RFC Grand Final. This time round, Gurmeet will be competing as the driver while Tung will support him as his navigator.

As per Mr. Luis J.A. Wee, the Founder of the Rainforest Challenge, “It’s really wonderful to see our current RFC India champion making it to the mother event RFC in Malaysia. I am very sure that the skills that Gurmeet & Kirpal have displayed in Goa will be put to good use competing against the other internationals. They are also both very cool players, and such traits plus their improved driving and recovery skills will add to their advantage. So, good luck and best wishes to our Indian champion team!”

This year’s special 20th edition of RFC Grand Final will take place in Pahang, the biggest state in peninsula Malaysia and a tropical paradise for sports & adventure based tourism. The event will have twenty four Special Stages (SS) that will be divided into four progressively difficult competitive legs - the Prologue, the Predator, the Terminator and the Twilight Zone. The competition will test the competitors’ strength, endurance, driving and vehicle recovery skills under extreme off-road conditions and the team with the maximum points at the end of all the SS will be announced as the winner.

Wishing the Indian team luck for the upcoming competition, Force Motors Ltd’s Managing Director Mr. Prasan Firodia said, “Force Motors would like to wish Gurmeet and team good luck for RFC Malaysia 2016. His performance at Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge, India has raised the bar of Indian off-roading. May he bring the Winner’s trophy back to India!”

For Gurmeet, participating in RFC Grand Final 2014 was a true test of his survival instincts and unlike anything he had experienced before. In contrast to RFC India, where the competitors had a decently-sized support team to take care of the team’s food and other requirements, in Malaysia they had to fend for themselves throughout the competition, having only a skeleton support team of 2 mechanics.

Recounting his experience at RFC Grand Final 2014, Gurmeet said, “We faced a lot of issues with our vehicle and had to deal with all mechanical faults ourselves. Ultimately we had to bow out of the competition because of vehicle failure. It did not really affect us then, as we were happy just to have competed against such renowned and experienced international offroaders, that too in our dream event! However, this is my second attempt at RFC Grand Final and we are very serious about the competition. That’s why we have been extremely careful in our selection of vehicle. After extensive research, we have finalized a Suzuki Samurai, with a 3000 cc turbo engine, which meets all RFC specifications. We are very confident about our technique and skills and are sure that we can give a tough competition to other international offroaders. After all, throughout RFC India 2016 we competed neck-to-neck against and ultimately scored more than Tan Eng Joo and Merwyn Lim, who have won RFC Grand Final multiple times! If the vehicle supports us till the end, then I am quite hopeful of getting a podium finish at RFC Grand Final 2016.”

Gurmeet’s confidence is also due to the exceptional navigation skills of his co-driver, who has a major role to play in RFC. “Kirpal has the spirit of a champion and the patience required to handle pressure situations. He is extremely fit and proactive and comes up with quick and practical solutions to problems. We share a very strong rapport and understand each other well, which makes for a great team work. I am happy that he is accompanying me for the upcoming competition. If he had not agreed to be my navigator, I would not have participated in RFC Grand Final 2016.”

Cougar Motorsport’s Founder & Director Mr. Ashish Gupta is keeping his fingers crossed for the duo and hopes to see some amazing offroad action from them in the upcoming competition. He said, “Both of them are seasoned offroaders and Gurmeet’s graph has steadily grown over the last three years at RFC India. At this year’s edition, they displayed international level of skill and technique that ultimately resulted in their historic win. Since the toughness quotient of RFC India is quite high and they nailed it beautifully, I am confident that the Indian team will give a very tough competition to the other teams at the RFC Grand Final.”
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No rebranded Skoda WRC for 2017, based on VW Polo R WRC

 

Skoda Motorsport CEO, Bernhard Maier has announced that there will be no Skoda branded WRC car from technology lifted from the fully developed & recently abandoned VolksWagen Polo R WRC. 

In the past couple of day, there was rumour that VW might enter into the top level WRC category, from its fully developed Polo R WRC under its sister brand Skoda. With the homologation process being still active for the developed car, it was natural to such speculations.

On a reply to this, Bernhard said, "It will not happen. We have enjoyed success in rallying and we are enjoying success in rallying, in the WRC2 category.

"We have a successful customer programme that doesn't cost us money and could earn us the championship, so why would I change that?

"Doing more is not always better - what would we bring ourselves in addition to what we are already achieving in rallying?

"A WRC2 championship is fine for Skoda - certainly it provides the best return on money invested, because it does not really cost us."

With this annoucement, it is likely that the 4-time championship winning car will disappear into the dust cloud of its own. A shame indeed!
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Volkswagen Motorsport exits WRC from 2017!

Four times consecutive world champions - Ogier, Ingrassia and Volkswagen Motorsports, Polo R WRC

In an absolute surprise (shocker!?) against what everybody were anticipating of the great battle for the title at the top level of rallying with the newer, more powerful cars in WRC from the upcoming season onwards, Volkswagen Motorsport breaks the hard news of exiting. With the new specification Polo R WRC car recently homologated(?), it was really a hard surprise for everyone following and cheering for WRC campaign.

The announcement explains their shift in horizon towards Electric Vehicles, which are posed to be the future of personal and mass mobility. With the Audi & Toyota brandishing their vehicles at WEC, and the newer Formula E on the news, the move by the VW's may not be shocking though! With this news, the future seats for the crew of VW is wide open for the upcoming and unconfirmed teams. 

2017 spec VW Polo R WRC during recent test.
MSport, Toyota, have a better bargain because of this, but for the sport, loosing a leading manufacturer is not a good news in any perspective. Hyundai and Citroen already have announced their driver-lineup, but however a reconsidering to inducting the 4-time world champion looking for a seat, might shake it up.

As confirmed by the VW Motorsports division, that newly developed car or the current spec will not be available for a customer program. So that leaves most of us wondering and disappointing to loose those super spectacular cars eating dust in their museum or at a car show!? The complete news release, here.
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Paris Motor Show - Toyota Gazoo Racing Showcases Yaris WRC 2017

Yaris WRC Test Car

At the Paris Motor Show, Toyota announced it has reached an agreement with Microsoft to collaborate in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) series. As part of the agreement, Microsoft will serve as a “technology partner” for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC rally team.

Toyota Yaris WRC, Tommi Makinen
Motorsports offer an important way to convey the excitement of driving, and are at the heart of Toyota’s efforts to foster a greater following of car fans and enthusiasts. Conducting these activities under the umbrella of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing allows Toyota to develop its people and improve its products, thereby contributing to the creation of “ever-better cars”. Under the leadership of Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen, Toyota is developing a rally vehicle scheduled to begin competing in 2017.

Using Microsoft technology, Toyota wants to maximize its competitiveness in WRC, whilst ensuring that learnings from the race course can be used to achieve the company’s vision of designing and manufacturing “ever-better cars”.

Toyota Yaris WRC
Microsoft will support TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in three key areas:

Development of a data analysis platform to gather, visualize and analyse various data related to driving which will be utilised in race activities.
Creation of a team information-sharing system to allow team members to collaborate and share various materials such as images and videos efficiently and effectively using a cloud service.
Enhancement of communication with fans through providing services utilizing the cloud and using Microsoft’s display devices to provide them with a front-row motorsports experience.
Today’s announcement builds on the existing partnership between Toyota and Microsoft. Most recently, the two companies collaborated on the establishment of Toyota Connected, a new user experience and product-development company aimed at expanding, collecting and analysing large amounts of vehicle data to help further improve quality, safety and the driving and ownership experience for Toyota customers.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said: “I believe that, like Toyota, Microsoft aims to enrich society in meaningful ways. Based on the on-going partnership, we aim to further develop our people and enhance our cars through the use of IT in motorsports to promote ‘ever-better cars’.”

Toyota Yaris WRC
Toyota understands the important role that information technology must play in order to further accelerate the development of the automotive industry. Gathering valuable data will help lay the foundation for the future of sustainable mobility. This, in turn, will help create a society in which everyone can live at ease, safely and freely. Another important contributor to a safer automotive future is the Toyota Research Institute1 (TRI), which is focused on artificial intelligence for automobiles, robotics and scientific discovery. TRI is bringing to life Toyota’s vision of autonomous driving, which follows a double approach. The first type of application is ‘Chauffeur Mode’, where the car is fully autonomous. It has the potential to offer mobility to those who would not otherwise have it, such as older people and those with special needs. In order to accomplish this safely, it isestimated that some 14.2 billion kilometres2 of testing, including simulation, are required. Microsoft is an important partner in the test-mile accumulation, since a lot of the work can be done through multi-agent simulation.

The second application of autonomous driving that Toyota is pursuing is the ‘Guardian Mode’ or high-level driver assist. This technology is a further evolution of current safety mechanisms such as Toyota Safety Sense, and is designed to support the driver as necessary, even taking over the car in certain circumstances. The knowledge that they have this safety net, will enable customers to enjoy their drive to the fullest.

The Toyota Research Institute, Toyota Connected and Microsoft are united in their efforts to use cutting edge technology to establish safer, cleaner and more convenient mobility.

THREE MORE LIKE-MINDED PARTNERS TO SUPPORT THE TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRC TEAM

Toyota Yaris WRC
The Yaris WRC Test Car that was driven on the Paris Motor Show stage by 4-time WRC champion Tommi Mäkinen didn’t only reveal Microsoft as the technology partner for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC team. In addition to Michelin, who is the team tyre supplier, the car also carried the logos of the DMG MORI and Panasonic Corporation, two companies that relate to Toyota’s vision on motorsports, and that have partnered with Toyota for its 2017 WRC endeavour.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC project is supported by following partners;



The new regulations for the upcoming season of 2017 is definitely going to be demanding to all the drivers, manufacturers and very exciting for the followers & fans!
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Thierry Neuville seals his seat for WRC 2017 with Hyundai WRT



2017 WRC Hyundai i20 rally car
Thierry Neuville seals his seat for the upcoming season of WRC with Hyundai i20WRC. Well that was fast back to back announcements, and as speculated earlier, he retains his seat with Hyundai for the next season too. Hyundai Motorsport officially confirmed within a few hours after Citroen Racing's announcement of Craig Breen & Stephane Lefebvre's signing up for the next two years.

Hyundai i20 WRC at Paris Motorshow
Hyundai i20 WRC 2017 car during a test
Neuville was in negotiations with Citroen & Toyota for a seat in the seasons to come, however he concluded with Hyundai for the next two years. "I'm delighted to extend my contract with Hyundai Motorsport for two more years," said Neuville.

"Although, I had alternative options available, it seemed the most logical decision to keep up the great momentum we have within this team.

The 2017 season will be a new era for the WRC with the revised regulations.

Thierry Neuville, speaking to the media.
We have shared very special moments together since the team's debut in WRC. Our first win together in Germany [in 2014] was one of my career highlights.

With a new car next year, and even more ambitious targets, I am excited by what this next chapter will bring.", says the young Belgian.

With this latest announcements made, M-Sport and Toyota are the other two teams left to make their announcements for their drivers line-up.
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